Who has this man’s mask? WHA Jets legendary goaltender Daley seeks gear from playing days
Read this article for free:
Already have an account? Log in here »
To continue reading, please subscribe:
Monthly Digital Subscription
$4.75 per week*
- Enjoy unlimited reading on winnipegfreepress.com
- Read the E-Edition, our digital replica newspaper
- Access News Break, our award-winning app
- Play interactive puzzles
*Billed as $19.00 plus GST every four weeks. Cancel anytime.
Joe Daley has spent his post-hockey career dealing with seemingly every piece of sports memorabilia imaginable. From equipment and jerseys to cards to collectibles, he’s pretty much seen it all.
Except when it comes to his own treasured items.
The location of Daley’s goalie mask, the only one he ever wore when wrapping up his career with his hometown Winnipeg Jets of the World Hockey Association, remains a mystery. Same with his pads, glove and blocker.
Oh, the irony.
“I have no idea,” Daley told the Free Press on Thursday. “I don’t know if it’s in the hands of somebody who doesn’t even know what they’ve got. Or a collector has it. Maybe they discarded it.”
Daley appeared in 106 NHL games with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Buffalo Sabres and Detroit Red Wings between 1967-1972, then joined the WHA Jets with whom he played 308 games before hanging up his skates following the 1978-79 season.
Turns out the organization never turned the equipment over to Daley — they told him at the time they weren’t sure where it ended up — and his attempts to track it down over the more than 40 years since have been futile.
“I’ve always felt that goaltenders were like carpenters. Your tool chest went with you wherever you went and the stuff is sort of tailored to your liking, as nobody else is going to have any benefit from it,” said Daley. “Whether it was something that was done purposely, or something that just happened, I don’t know.”
Now 80, the owner of Joe Daley’s Sports & Framing would love to get it back — especially the fiberglass mask he had made during the tail end of his playing days.
“It was the only one I ever wore, so it’s sentimental,” he said. “It’s just one of those things that, as you age, things mean more than ever. I’ve got a couple of boys that are aging themselves, and a grandson that you think, you know, maybe family would like to have something of grandpa’s or dad’s to carry on and pass it down.”
Daley is hoping going public might “get the ball rolling,” and has even offered a reward for anyone who knows the whereabouts. He’s started posting about it on social media websites specializing in vintage masks and equipment.
More than 20 years ago, when his store was located inside Polo Park mall, one of his jerseys was swiped during an overnight break-in. Incredibly, it turned up in his store a few years ago.
“The person that had it had no idea it was stolen,” said Daley.
Winnipeg Jets goalie Joe Daley has no idea what happened to the equipment he used when he backstopping the WHA team to three league titles.
Perhaps some similar luck is in his future?
“I don’t know if I can live long enough to see my mask, but if you can get something out there and jog somebody’s memory, or maybe it’s just laying around in somebody’s basement and they don’t even know what they have,” he said. “The worst thing is that it got discarded or destroyed and we’ll never see it again.”
Daley began experimenting with a mask in the early 1970s but wasn’t comfortable wearing it. He said the early technology wasn’t very forgiving.
“I always said you get cut worse with one than without one,” he said with a laugh.
His tune changed after joining the Jets, thanks to goalie partner Ernie Wakely who convinced him to give it a try. More and more netminders were going that way, no longer wanting to put their face in the line of fire. Jacques Plante had been the very first, way back in 1959, but it took another decade until it really started to become a trend.
“I got one made — I think I paid a couple hundred bucks for it — and I used it number of times in practice before actually wearing it in a game,” said Daley.
“And then it became just another part of the equipment. I became comfortable with it. And believe me I was glad I had it on a couple of times. I remember one time (Anders) Hedberg hit me in warmup right between the eyes. That saved me. There were a few occasions where it meant a lot to have one.”
When the NHL Jets were getting ready to head to Arizona in 1996, Daley visited the locker room with his grandson and couldn’t believe the size of the equipment being worn by then-starter Nikolai Khabibulin.
“I remember picking up his catching glove and thinking I had an apple basket,” he said. “And then I lifted his helmet and thought, ‘How in the hell can you keep your head up?’ It was so heavy.”
“I don’t know if it’s in the hands of somebody who doesn’t even know what they’ve got. Or a collector has it. Maybe they discarded it.”–Joe Daley
Daley remains close with the current Jets organization, and he’s forged a friendship with current goaltender Connor Hellebuyck. He marvels at the advancements in the much lighter equipment they now wear, and with the way players can shoot the puck.
“I don’t blame them for having the type of protection they do,” he said. “In all the years I played without a mask, I would never have blamed a player for shooting at my face. But it seemed like it was just sort of an unwritten rule not to.”
Daley said his missing white mask is similar to the one Bernie Parent wore with the Philadelphia Flyers back in the day. And while several people have presented him with replicas over the years, nothing can replace the real thing. His pads and gloves are believed to be Cooper brand and dark brown in colour.
Daley’s list of accomplishments and accolades is long. He won three Avco Cups with Winnipeg in 1976, 1978 and 1979, is the WHA’s all-time leader in wins by a goaltender and was inducted into the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame, the WHA Hall of Fame and, most recently in 2018, the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame.
He is credited with stopping 8,065 shots during his seven years with the Jets. Now he’s hoping someone out there might be able to make the ultimate save for him. Unlike all of the items currently on display in his St. Mary’s Road store, this little bit of hockey history would be priceless.
Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.